Friday, August 15, 2008

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Considering the name of my blog, I feel it is only appropriate that I include a book once in awhile. Hooray for the first.

For years I have said that The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favorite books, but I hadn't read it in about 10 years until this month. Luckily, book group decided they wanted to read it too, which gave me an excellent excuse to sit down and decide why it was that I liked this book so much in the first place. Now there are a number of things that people could point out as reasons not to like it, including the incredibly slow beginning, quite disturbing descriptions of opium dens and some homosexual overtones (Oscar Wilde was gay, so this should, to some extent, come as no surprise), but once I got past the first 40 or so pages, I began to remember why I picked this book as one of my favorites early on. In fact, I could hardly put it down. For book group, this is a great choice because it stimulates so much discussion. For me personally, the mere fact that it gets me thinking about agency, redemption, the plan of salvation, and other important aspects of the gospel of Jesus Christ is enough to make it a great read in my book. I think the thing about the story that is the most poignant for me is how we choose our own destiny, and how the choices that we make ultimately determine our character, so much so that after numerous choices in one direction or another it becomes increasingly more difficult to choose those things which have at that moment become contrary to our very nature. How do we react when confronted with truth about ourselves? Are we defensive? Do we justify our actions? Which voices of influence do we heed? Do we allow ourselves to shrug off our sins? Or do we face them, realizing what we've done and being accountable for our actions? Do we know from what source our redemption comes? And then, of course, one may ask the question, what would my portrait look like? If I could see the state of my own soul before my eyes as clear as day, with my sins etched across my face and hands, what would I see? Alas the very sad thing about this book is how redemption is passed up again and again... but you may just have to read it to find out more than that. I love the scripture given in part by Basil, the artist of the portrait: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." ~Isaiah 1:18

Monday, August 04, 2008

Fun with Thunder and Lightning

So, this is the storm that just went by. It was pretty intense. I haven't been that concerned about weather since one particular storm on my mission when my companion and I got stuck in the rain in the city with green skies, wind, lightning and rain. We decided it was best to go home for the evening and wait out the storm, but it took us quite a while to get home as moving about in the storm was really difficult. We finally ended up watching more of the lightning from our apartment when we got back and tried in vain to take several pictures. It was the kind of lightning that just reaches all the way across the sky.

Anyway, I mostly just wanted to show the radar and record the moment since it was Hunter's first really nasty storm. I mean we have thunderstorms here all the time and they turn on the tornado sirens occasionally, but this was the first time it actually felt dangerous. They had the tornado sirens on all around us, even in downtown, which rarely happens, and there were apparently tornadoes on the ground west of us heading east. It was a very fast moving storm, so we went downstairs to hang out with our friends the Olivers for a bit while it blew through. The weather changed incredibly fast from pretty peaceful to so windy and rainy you could hardly see the street. The lightning show that this thing put on was unbelievable. It reminded me of being a kid and watching electrical storms through the sliding glass doors at our house in Oklahoma City.

I love watching lightning, so after the major threat passed, we watched from our living room in awe and tried to teach Hunter the signs for lightning and thunder since we had him out of bed anyway. He loved watching the lights and kept saying "Wow!" Wow indeed. Well, it was brief and it has now moved south and east of us and it continues to grow, which I'm sure means that we will be hearing bad news in the morning about what it might have left in its wake. Here is a video of Hunter watching the lightning with mommy after we had come back upstairs. It is mostly dark, except for the lightning, but there is a really amazing lightning strike right in the middle of it, and of course, Hunter is being his cute little self - not scared at all, just taking it all in.

Alright, so it is now Tuesday, August 5th, and I decided to post some photos of the storm, which were sent in to the Chicago Tribune from Chicagoland residents.

If you'd like to see some more really good photos that I couldn't import, go to NBC 5 News Chicago. Tornadoes were confirmed in last night's storm, and there was quite a bit of damage. Lots and lots of trees were downed all over the city, including in our neighborhood and water leaked into part of the stairwell of the Oriental Institute, resulting in a good sized hole and lots of water on the main stairway.